I have been building (and publishing) a build for WNDR3700/3800 for five years. That router, although old by current standards, still answers my needs. The router has also an excellent TFTP recovery functionality, which is important in the long run when living on the bleeding edge.
But I have been wondering in any case if I should buy a newer router and start exploring that. Two top choices below:
wrt1900ac series seems to be the most active new powerful router in the Openwrt forum. But that has a wifi driver with a rather closed-looking development (mwlwifi) and introductions of new devices to the series have been somewhat buggy, so I wonder about the long-term life of that choice
LEDE got NBG6817 (Zyxel Armor Z2, AC2600) support yesterday and that is a dual-core device with AC2600, based on ath10k wifi with ipq806 platform, so I wonder about that.
Pricewise both wrt1900acs and nbg6817 seems to about ~200+ EUR in Finland, so there is not much difference.
Any comments on those two? Any other suggestions? What could be a nice router for the next 3-5 years?
After some discussion, I ended up with buying Netgear Nighthawk R7800 X4S AC2600 router. (IPQ8065 QCA9984 ath10k)
But I hope that discussion here continues and interesting options get introduced.
I am awaiting delivery of my Turris Omnia router It's designed to be powerful, with lots of RAM and Flash for more than just "home router duties", based on OpenWrt (with many new features, etc.) But it's brand new and we don't know what works well and what needs to be reworked.
In addition, email@example.com is totally overwhelmed at the moment (maybe just this week, I don't know), and they are (I think) still in the process of setting up their documentation system. They do have a (Discourse) forum, though at: https://discourse.labs.nic.cz/
I have ordered the D-Link DIR-860L Revision B1 myself (paid 65 €). AC1200. I still see a lot of people complain about mwlwifi, and ath10k may be better but is still very much closed up as well, to my knowledge. It's nothing like ath9k.
The DIR-860L apparently also offers HTTP-based recovery. I do understand your preference for convenient recovery functionality, I have one TP-Link brick still sitting here, and that's my first and only TP-Link brick so far - I have reflashed my WNDR3700 from recovery countless times.
Don't let the numbers fool you - the higher bandwidth the high-end AC devices offer only really pays off when you are using a lot of clients (and multiple simultaneous streams). But I assume you already know that
Frankly, the WNDR3700 is still sufficient for me as well, it's been running for 6 years now but the D-Link is a bargain at the moment, and mt76 is the most open 802.11ac driver available.
I've been considering my options for a while as well, the routers I'm eyeing for now are either MediaTek MT7621 or QCA IPQ806* based. While the Turris Omnia looks very interesting, it simply breaks the price envelope and other mvebu/ mwlwifi variants don't strike me as reliable for the time being.
While there are several options, I haven't identified a clear winner yet (wlan is on the slightly immature side in either way, MT7621 might be one of the last living mips specimens...). In general prices seem to have risen quite significantly for decent devices.
And to further muddy the waters, there's some very exciting work going on in the "Make Wi-Fi Fast" project (mailing list) on ath9k. They have increased throughput, provided air-time fairness, and minimized latency...
I have not kept track of which routers might be good possibilities, though...
I have skipped over Turris Omnia as it will likely be a small niche product. Interesting and powerful, but niche. (But I like the device and almost participated in the initial crowdfunding earlier.)
I haven't looked closely at the wifi-fast project, but I guess that the results will likely trickle down to ath9k and ath10k
I have somehow ignored the Mediatek devices. For no specific reason, but haven't paid much attention to them. Thanks for reminding me about them.
Yep, I know that "AC2600" or even "AC1900" is quite unnecessary for home use with just a few users & devices. I am mainly looking for a new "powerful mainstream router" just for fun.
The sad part from the OEM sales perspective is that the 6-year old WNDR3700 series (I have v1, v2 and 3800) is still quite fine for home use today except when really overloading the network with fast connections. As can be seen from my ramblings in the SQM, Cake & LEDE development threads (e.g. https://github.com/tohojo/sqm-scripts/pull/26#issuecomment-185833432 and http://lists.infradead.org/pipermail/lede-dev/2016-May/000395.html ), WNDR3700-series is capable of handling something like 80-95 Mbit/s of shaped traffic depending on the shaping algorithm. I have a ~120/15 Mbit line from ISP, so choking the WNDR3700 is possible when testing new shaping algorithms. The more powerful current routers could make sense for that kind of testing. But otherwise the old WNDR3700 is enough
From what I gather, the MT7621 MIPS SoC should be able to handle that easily. I remember getting my WNDR3700 for +- 100 €, it wasn't top of the line anymore at that point. The D-Link is entry-level 802.11ac as well now, but for what it costs now... I wouldn't hesitate.
The main question is most likely longevity, in that regard I'd say that MIPS is not the way to go as pretty much everything is shifting towards ARM. The D-Link DIR-860L (B1) is a pretty nice device, it will be quite an upgrade but I don't think it'll be a fun device to use in ~4-5 years looking at how software evolves over time.
As for SoC, anything that's quite decently supported (Marvell or QCA (IPQ-series)) will do fine, however WiFi is somewhat of a hassle. 11ac is at best 2nd gen and looking back at 11n where you're on 4th/5th gen hardware which by far works best I'd highly consider a device with WiFi in PCIe-slots since you probably want to replace the wifi later on. As far as WiFi goes I get the impression that ath10k does get more love than mwlwifi driver so if I had to choose between those I'd go for ath10k. I'd also go for QCA9984 radio as it's the newest radio hardware by QCA that's available. Having that in mind it kinda narrows down your selection, the Netgear X4s (R7800) goes on sale here in Sweden at random times at ~160 EUR which is a good deal considering that it also has eSATA.
I'd also highly consider the Globalscape Espressobin board and use whatever WiFi card you prefer (I'd probably grab a MT76-based card) but keep in mind that it'll only have one radio. That's not much of an issue unless you have a lot of legacy hardware as any recent 11n device does dual band and 11ac have 5Ghz mandatory.
While I got my turris omnia (which seems nice, but I am just starting to play/test it *) I would probably look at a pcengines apu2c4 (http://pcengines.ch/apu2.htm), fully tricked out this stays below EUR 180, while the omnia retails at around 240. At least the apu is close to the initial retail price of a wndr3800 in 2011... (but unlike the mass produced wndrs I expect neither of the more boutique routers to drop in price significantly in the near/intermediate term).
*) As far as I can tell turris os is still based on openwrt CC
I am the dev for the TRENDnet tew827dru. It's not in LEDE source yet but patches/builds are already available. Uptime on my home unit is 30+ days and very stable/functional so far.
The ipq806x routers are pretty great and well supported. You have five or six of them to choose from at this point:
Netgear R7500 (v2 only)
TP-Link Archer C2600
Zytel NBG6817 is being worked on.
Beware that the TP-Link Archer C2600 is not Open Source friendly. Console port has been purposely removed and you will need a level shifter and soldering to get it back. I would recommend something else since TP-Link has gone anti-OSS.
I am very interested in the Zytel NBG6817 now. It has a nice 4GB MMC NAND onboard and the SoC is the ipq8065 rather than the ipq8064 that most have. jtag and serial look easy to get to from the pictures I have seen. I will probably buy one soon and start working on it. The current dev who was working on it was having some troubles getting the MMC flash booting right, but I think they were minor issues.
If wireless isn't a huge deal and you only need two network ports, I would also recommend you check out the Zotac ZBOX-CI323NANO-U. If I could get a better 802.11 half mini card for it, I would hack in some antennas and go that route.
I can imagine seeing more Intel processors being used in routers in the future. That would be interesting.
while the ZBT WG3526 might be cheap, its a mediatech device, i wouldnt really recommend it, I myself have 2 devices running on LEDE trunk. It does work actually, and is stable, however i really feel for the lack of atheros based chipsets.
Ive has rcu_sceduler and rebooting issues with the WG3526 with both qos and sqm scripts, turn it off and it runs fine.
IVe done a custom build for China since i am currently there, to circumvent the GFW with the likes of chinadns and shadowsocks. it does work pretty well. That being said... I wouldnt recommend the deice for much customizations, its a b*tch just to reflash to LEDE or OpenWRT, using some web based rom flash utility on the device the first time. After that sysupgrade does work.
I followed the ClearFog Base for a long time, but it is a single board computer rather than a router, those specs cannot be enabled simultaneously and there are many issues on u-boot and eMMC. It is not a good choice for LEDE/OpwnWRT.
I have been using the Linksys WRT1900AC for the past 2.5 years and while it's a powerful router, the wifi is plain rubbish! My ISP uses fiber and connects end users through docsis 3.0 and they provide by default a netgear modem/router and I have to say that the wifi on the cheap box is at least twice faster and more reliable than the WRT1900AC.
It's been almost 3 years since they released the new WRT series but I have to say that I'm extremely disappointed with the wifi and should I have/want to buy a new device tomorrow I would avoid buying a WRT device.
Hope this comment helps others not to make the same mistake as me.
LE: I forgot to mentioned that the wifi driver development is rubbish as well.